biography

ross ryan

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Auschwitz-Birkenau, Poland, 2012

Ross Ryan (left) with Kazimierz Piechowski (1919-2013)

1974 Born


Ross Ryan grew up in the small fishing village of Crinan on Scotland's west coast. In 1997 he graduated from Gray's School of Art in Aberdeen. Since then he has been continually on the move recording in changing mediums that suit the various and often complex environments. His Work can be found in collections world wide.


‘To work in the confinement of a studio removes all possibilities of chance’ comments Ross Ryan. By enduring and working in the harshest environments, both physical and emotional, his work offers the viewer a documentary style direct insight into the subject, work and creative process.


Since 1998 Ryan has sailed the Atlantic on several occasions communicating solely with messages in bottles. In Autumn 2014 a planned Atlantic crossing will visit the locations and finders of the bottles during the last 16 years. In 2010 the Atlantic etching series were all constructed in the dark, during night watch, as the boat crossed the ocean.  Here one can follow a pictorial depiction of long periods of isolation while spent at sea.


Auschwitz-Birkenau series (2012-ongoing) comprises of  over a 100 canvases painted in situ in the former Nazi concentration camp in Poland. Ryan lived in the back of his van for five months, entering the forest to paint in all weather. Paintings have been created through the seasons in the rarely visited woods that now conceal some of mans darkest moments. ‘As often with much of my work,’ suggests Ryan ‘I look at them as human landscapes even if people are not visible in the pictures as figures.’ These forest paintings are an extremely sensitive representation of their subject matter.


Arctic series (2013) was made during a winter in northern Lapland. Low level light, solitude and extreme cold, at times minus 30c and below, each played a role in the outcome of the paintings. In his words, ‘Painting with numb hands under 4 pairs of mittens gave the impression I was pushing stumps around the canvases.’ Each colour had its own threshold so while temperatures drop the pallet became more limited resulting in a minimal outcome similar to the surround landscape.’


Berlin drawings and paintings are a series of 70 works (2012-2014).  Here one can see Berlin’s old making way for the fast and inevitable gentrification. Works where carried out on locations during the winter months, day and night.

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